LIMRA is recalibrating its mission for a new five-year plan that included eliminating 6% of the LL Global workforce to reallocate resources for new initiatives.
David Levenson said that soon after he became LIMRA’s CEO in November 2018, the senior leadership team worked with management consultant Oliver Wyman to reevaluate the association’s activities in relation to its members.
The overarching organization, LL Global, has 1,100 member companies worldwide. Members span the insurance industry, including insurance companies, distributors, technology companies, asset managers and recordkeepers. Levenson is president and CEO of LIMRA, LOMA, SRI and LL Global.
“It starts with collecting feedback and insights from the members as to where their acute needs are, how well we were doing addressing those needs, what they would like to see us do in the future,” Levenson said, pointing to technology as a leading concern. ”The world of insurance is changing very, very fast. So, when you think about technology, when you think about the fact that there are twice as many insurtechs as there are insurance companies, that gives you a sense of all the things that are going on.”
The association has sharpened its focus on three key markets: insurance, retirement and workplace benefits.
"For each of these markets, we have set ambitions that support our mission, and identified activities designed to achieve our aspirations," according to LIMRA's plan.
Last week, LIMRA announced it has made a new portal, My Products, available to members. The portal allows companies to filter data from its Life and Annuity Compass tools, to “compare individual life insurance products with similar competitors’ products, boosting their ability to track their own performance and adapt to evolving market conditions,” the association said in the announcement.
Staff Cuts To Reallocate Resources
The portal is one of the outcomes from work on the association’s 2025 Compass plan. Another outcome was an understanding that the organization needed resources for new initiatives.
“We're a nonprofit trade association,” Levenson said. “We don't have a ton of capital that we're sitting on. So what we needed to do is prioritize our work and emphasize the things that our members needed us to do more of and deprioritize what our members needed us to do less of. That resulted in a lot of the changes that we implemented in the fourth quarter, which resulted in 20 positions or so being eliminated and 14 open positions being cancelled.”
The cuts represent 6 percent of the overarching LL Global organization’s 350 employees.
Levenson said the money is being shifted to new staff and infrastructure. New initiatives will be akin to the My Products portal that will offer members tools they can use for their own research.
Traditionally, the association has presented findings to members rather than acting as an accessible database.
“It gives us a chance to move from a manual environment to an automated environment,” Levenson said. “They [members] want us to certainly do that.”
Recently, LIMRA has offered a few new automated tools:
Life Compass and Annuity Compass
These tools allow companies to review data for products and markets. For the Life Compass portal, LIMRA expects to have more than 60% of the U.S. life insurance market (measured by premium) by the end of 2020. LIMRA expects a “large majority of annuity companies” to participate in the Annuity Compass portal by the end of the year.
Released in October, this platform allows financial services companies to better detect and prevent account takeover attempts by leveraging the collective knowledge of the industry.
“So you know, we've created a neighborhood watch, essentially where, in two months, we already have over half the industry who have signed up,” Levenson said.
Data standards platform
LIMRA expects to release its Data Exchange Standards (LDEx) next week. The standards are “designed to standardize the data exchanged between insurance carriers and benefits administration technology companies for non-medical employee benefits. This will help reduce errors, drive consistency and streamline the process. According to LIMRA research, nearly half of U.S. employers (47%) use online benefits enrollment programs during open enrollment season. From an employee perspective, LIMRA research finds 68% of employees enroll for their benefits online.”
Without consistent standards, companies found it inefficient to manage the many data feeds to ensure the accuracy of the data.
“LIMRA worked with 22 insurance companies and 16 benefits administration technology companies to develop these data exchange standards for the industry,” according to a LIMRA statement. “These standards are aimed to support top-line revenue growth for our members, increase speed to market and help manage bottom-line expenses.”
The platform will support all life products, accidental death and dismemberment, critical illness, cancer, accident, dental, vision, hospital indemnity and short and long-term disability products.
“We think is exciting,” Levenson said. “There are so many small employers that submit data to carriers however they want. And we've established a standard for how that should get done. We've got at least 80% of the member companies on board with that standard.”
More Initiatives To Come
The association is casting a wide net to move further into using technology to improve companies’ efficiency and effectiveness with customers.
LIMRA has pulled in 40 current and past board members to work in task forces in conjunction with three management consultants: Oliver Wyman, McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group.
Before taking the CEO position with LIMRA, Levenson was a principal at Edward Jones and previously the president of wealth management at The Hartford.
Levenson said the association is looking ahead at shifting demographics and a significant retirement challenge with more people over 65 than under 18 by 2045. Tackling those issues will require a broader perspective of the industries around finance and insurance.
“We're going to be broadening beyond insurance,” Levenson said. “So retirement workplace benefits are going to be a couple key additional areas for us. And I think historically, we've done a very good job with respect to tied agents. But we clearly need to understand some of the independent channels a little bit better, including bank and broker-dealer distribution as well as IMO and BGA distribution. So we'll be doing a little bit more around those areas as well as we go forward.”
Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines. He was also vice president of communications for an insurance agents’ association. Steve can be reached at [email protected]
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